The U.S. Department of State made it clear on Tuesday (local time) that a freeze on North Korea's nuclear program is the beginning but not the final goal of the North Korea-U.S. denuclearization negotiations. The statement is a reiteration of the U.S. stance that the North's nuclear freeze is the "entrance" to the denuclearization talks, not the "exit." It is interpreted that the message is aimed at rebutting the argument that Washington would lower its goal of the North's denuclearization to a "small deal," which is considered a nuclear freeze.
"(A nuclear freeze) would never be the resolution of a process; that would never be the end of a process," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said during a press briefing. "I don't think that the administration has ever characterized a freeze as being the end goal. That would be at the beginning of the process," she added. "And we know that (President Donald Trump) remains committed to resolving issues on the Korean Peninsula peacefully and through diplomacy. We obviously clearly want to see the complete elimination of WMDs in North Korea."
The spokeswoman denied the media's characterization of the Trump-Kim meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom at the end of last month as the "third summit." She noted, "It wasn’t a summit, it wasn’t a negotiation; it was a meeting of two leaders." She also indicated that the Trump administration will soon begin to prepare for a third U.S.-North Korea summit, which she suggested would depend on the progress in the bilateral working-level talks and Pyongyang's implementation of denuclearization measures.